This one-pot, plant-based pasta recipe is the ideal throw-together meal for a quick weeknight dinner. Pasta is the perfect way to sneak in a ton of veggies while smothering everything in pesto, which is always a win. This homemade pesto recipe swaps pecans for pine nuts, includes a hefty serving of spinach and leaves out the Parmesan cheese for a vegan and more budget-friendly version that is equally as delicious as a traditional recipe. With the exception of the pesto, every part of this dish can be made in the same large skillet or pot: boil and drain the pasta first, then cook your shallots, garlic, butternut squash and mushrooms in the same pot and you're left with only one piece of cookware to clean. If you can find it, delicata squash is excellent in this recipe (though it can be hard to find when not in season), but if not, butternut squash works great too.
One-Pot Vegan Pasta With Squash, Mushrooms and Pecan Pesto 6 Steps
Slice your delicata squash into 1/2"-inch rings (they will be “half” rings since you’ve already sliced it lengthwise). Cut each of these rings in half again, so you have approximately 1"-inch pieces of squash. If you're using butternut squash, peel and slice into small 1/2"-inch cubes.
Make your pesto by combining the toasted pecans and the garlic clove in a blender or food processor. Blend until you have small pieces of pecan, then add in the remaining pesto ingredients. Blend until everything is combined and mostly smooth. Taste and add more salt or lemon if desired.
Bring a large pot or deep skillet of water to a boil and add 3 tablespoons of sea salt. Cook your pasta according to directions until al dente -- it should be slightly undercooked since it will finish cooking in the pot. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, then strain the pasta and set aside.
In the same pot/skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium. Add the sliced shallots and a big pinch of sea salt and cook for 2-3 minutes or until just starting to turn translucent. Add the sliced garlic, delicata squash pieces and another pinch of salt and stir. Cook over medium heat, covered, for 6-8 minutes or until the squash pieces are tender and browned. Stir the mixture occasionally to make sure that the shallots and garlic aren’t burning. Add your mushroom pieces and cook everything uncovered for another 5-8 minutes, until everything is browned and soft.
Turn your heat down to the lowest setting and add your cooked pasta to the veggie skillet. Add a few big scoops of the pecan pesto and mix to combine everything. Add pasta water slowly to loosen up the sauce (up to 2/3 cup) and continue to stir until the pesto is well distributed.
Remove from the heat, add fresh black pepper, top with arugula and red pepper flakes if desired and enjoy!